The Cloud of Witnesses
Former title Lessons From the People of the Bible
Joseph of Nazareth
Lesson 6: Joseph of Nazareth – Modelled Earthly Fatherhood
Modelled Earthly Fatherhood
Joseph and Mary continued the custom of going to the Temple every year for the Feast of Passover. They made that commitment to God and to their family. It was on one of those journeys, presumably for something like what would be called today – His bar-mitzvah, that Jesus got lost.
Actually, it wasn't Jesus who got lost, but His parents who mislaid Him. Jesus was, as He told His parents, in His Father's house and going about His Father's business – just as they should have expected.
However, I want us to consider the next 18 years of silence. We read in our passage that "then He went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them." The next highlight we have of Jesus is when He was baptised by John, when He was about 30 years old.
So what happened in between? There has been much speculation. However, I will not get drawn into that. The Biblical record leaves it that He went home and did what He was told by His parents.
He had a normal upbringing. He lived at home, played with His siblings and learned a trade – His father's trade – building.
Just consider Joseph for a moment. If you think parenthood is difficult – try being the earthly father entrusted with raising the Son of God – Jesus. How would you go about it? Wishing you had been more attentive at the synagogue and learned the Torah in a lot more detail? Wishing you had been a scribe, rather than a carpenter?
What would you decide to teach Jesus? Sit him down with every religious book you could get your hands on and say – read those, they may help you? Try and teach Him the names of all the trees, plants, flowers and birds you can remember?
Then you would remember that He had created the world – and you – so there was no point in doing anything, anyway. Add to that, the fact that Jesus was perfect. Would you get frustrated, jealous and angry?
Whatever Joseph did and for however long he did it, would appear to have been simple, straightforward and consistent. He probably came to the conclusion very early on that he would just have to be himself and live accordingly. So he made the decision that there would be no pretence, but faithfulness and integrity. He carried on just as he had dealt with the challenges he faced with Mary from the very beginning of their relationship.
We all face similar challenges – because every child that is born is a gift from God, whom He entrusts to our care. It truly is an awesome privilege and responsibility. Our job is to take that privilege seriously, and consider the best way we can fulfil that role, never forgetting that in the end, we have to let them go and make their own decisions and way in life.
The Bible says, "Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and men." Joseph must have been a good role model, despite his humanity. So can you.
Joseph of Nazareth would say to us today...
You are allowed to ask God for help. He has a parental instinct over every child He entrusts to us. He is their Heavenly Father – we are just the trustees of our children until they earn their independence. Whatever you sow into their lives – they will reap.
Father, I hadn't realised what an awesome privilege it is to be a father/parent to a child. Please help me to fulfil that calling with all Your help so that those to whom I am a father/parent will also grow in wisdom, stature, and in favour with You and others. Amen.
Psalm 103; Ephesians 6:1-18; Philippians 4:4-13.
How does God expect earthly parents to look after their (His) children?
In what ways are you investing in your children?
What principles are you teaching your children to espouse by your current lifestyle?